Downsizing Our RV: Huge Fifth Wheel to a Tiny Motorhome

AOL - RV Downsize

When we released our 2019 big reveal video, we were surprised (and elated!) by the monstrous support of downsizing our RV! But then, we were faced with a slew of questions that we felt we owed you, our readers and followers why we downsized…significantly. So, here’s why we traded our comfortably spacious 42′ Heartland Landmark 365 luxury fifth wheel to a tiny 26′ motorhome…

First, we should tell you that our decision of downsizing our RV did not happen overnight. Nor was it an easy contemplation. In fact, it took a year from inception of the idea to signing papers and driving our new Winnebago View off the lot.

For our new(er) readers, let’s talk about our fifth wheel for a moment.

Always On Liberty fifth wheel

Our fifth wheel

Our fifth wheel was a 2016 Heartland Landmark 365 Ashland. It was 41’6″ to be exact but we rounded off to 42′ because…well, because. The ‘365’ was an identifying factor that deemed it a ‘full-timer coach’ for warranty and insurance purposes. We named our fifth wheel  Liberty because she was our freedom vessel. For almost three years, we’ve enjoyed her! So much that we upgraded components and the interior to make her ‘ours’ and boondocking capable.

Upgrades, Mods and Installs

We installed six 165 watt HighTec solar panels. Additionally, we upgraded our old lead acid batteries to six 100amp Battle Born GC2 lithium ion batteries. We kept our residential refrigerator on the original 1000 watt inverter. However, we also installed a Magnum MSH-3012 3000 watt inverter, and TriStar Morning Star MPPT-60 60amp Solar Controller to complete our fifth wheel’s energy management system. other upgrades included installing JT StrongArms, AC Soft Start, Max Air Covers, RV SnapPads, Furion Convection Microwave, Furion Gas Cooktop, new kitchen faucet and various smaller improvements.

AOL - Energy Management System

Since we work remotely and Dan takes distant learning college courses, we recognized the need for an office that would accommodate both of us to work and study comfortably. So, we pulled out the sleep sofa and replaced it with a large table desk and two chairs.

But while Dan and I were changing up our living space to accommodate our new workspace, we also updated the interior by bringing in some color and a few furnishings. We went with the Key West beach theme with vibrant aquas, lime greens, cantaloupe oranges and watermelon reds. It was bold and beautiful (we’ve been told!).

AOL - Interior Makeover

We hope you don’t mind us bragging, but we thought it was sensational. And, I recognizee the whole rage amongst young RVers is white but we wanted something ‘different’ and reflected our flavor. We enjoyed the new interior scenery for a year and a half. We loved our Landmark fifth wheel. Even so much, we had been penned in to have an independent suspension and disc brakes installed on our Landmark. However, we’ll come back to that.

Then something happened!

Since our complete solar and energy management system upgrades, we found ourselves boondocking more to the point of only visiting RV parks or campgrounds when we absolutely had to (visiting family and friends, where boondocking wasn’t available, etc.).

But, there was one huge elephant in the room. Many of the places we yearned to boondock were inaccessible because our RV was just too big. We would face issues like obstacles, locations being too small to fit our 42′ fifth wheel or just plain getting there. We also found we were limited in some Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome and even our friends or family’s driveways or land. So, we both agreed amicably. Let’s look into downsizing our RV.

We started paying attention to some of our fellow RV nomads who were  faced with our same issues. One by one, they were downsizing to much smaller RVs; whether it was smaller travel trailers, smaller fifth wheels, truck campers, vans or even smaller motorhomes.

We started researching

Once we decided to downsize, we honestly looked at every possible RV type out there. Since we are full-time RVers, this is ‘our home’. We needed to be very careful with our decision. So, in a nutshell, we found some where simply not going to work for us.

Smaller Fifth Wheel

Though we love the spacious interior floor plans and storage concepts of the fifth wheels, even if we went smaller, we’d still have a large RV footprint. And, the dually was not an ideal vehicle for city touring. We found even parking our Ram 3500 dually was becoming much a hassle because of our truck’s hip width. Not to mention, we still needed additional space to get into position to hitch to our fifth wheel.

Travel Trailer

There are some amazing floor plans out there but we really didn’t want to deal with lightweight trailers and the swaying. And like the fifth wheel, we still would need ample space in front of the trailer to hitch or disconnect thus requiring a longer site footprint. Let’s not forget, we didn’t want to be trading in for a different truck simply because the dually would have been silly and fuel inefficient just to tow a much lighter and smaller camper. So, this wouldn’t answer our downsizing our RV idea.

Truck Camper

We’ve seen some stunning truck camper living quarters. Our friends Jan and Ted recently bought a gently-loved truck camper to put on their dually (they also have a fifth wheel toy hauler). They wanted the smaller truck camper to take to Alaska instead of pulling their big honking toy hauler. However, as it seemed like a cool concept, it simply wasn’t going to work for full-time RVing. And,, the whole thought of sitting high and feeling like we’d tip over wasn’t my idea of fun. Oh, and let’s not forget our two cats. The floor space in truck campers is so minimal, we knew they would not be happy getting their tails stepped on or fighting for floor real estate.

Travel Van

If you’ve been paying attention to the whole so-called RV movement, you would have noticed the van-life concept has taken RVing by storm. But, hold your horses! There was absolutely no plausible way we were going to deal with a wet bath and eating a can of whatever every meal because the kitchens were just…so…small. And, though the whole ‘van down by the river’ total access sounded like a challenge we thought we could take on, we need just a tad bit more space to live…and still like each other at the end of each day!

Motorhome

Seriously, this option was high on our list. But our rule of purchase was to only look at motorized RV’s that are less than 27′. Why 27′ you ask? It was our magical number for driving and mobility comfort and yet, meet size stipulations for older campgrounds and our boondocking strategies. We admit, we love the finishings inside motorhomes. We also appreciate the ease of simply pushing a button and getting on down the road. However, there was still, one big issue keeping us from touring the backroads of America we yearned for. The height was still the same as our fifth wheel; over 13′. We’d still need to abide by our RV GPS limiting us to truck routes which meant interstates and state highways. This was not what we had in mind for downsizing our RV. We wanted more mobility for traveling the back streets and dirt roads.

More research…

During the past year, we’ve been paying attention to a couple RV friends of ours, Dan and Lindsay of Follow Your Detour, Jon and Nadia of Roaming Remodelers and Craig and Bryanna of Crazy Family Adventure. Now, don’t misunderstand, we we’re not stalkers in the sense of the word. But, more so, we were intensely interested in how they manage RV life in significantly smaller RVs. So, there we were…watching their social media channels. We were most interested in their mobility and the amazing places their little RVs were taking and placing them.

And, I’m secretly admitting that we wanted to be like them in the sense of their U.S. RV travel opportunities.

I felt like I was pestering Lindsay with question after question however, she was gracious and most helpful. I’m sure she understood the answers we were looking for weren’t on any forums, brochures or websites. Having met Lindsay at the RV Entrepreneur Summit in early 2018 and have networked with her since, I knew we could trust her opinion. So, thank you Lindsay for your time and patience in helping us with this amazing decision.

AOL - Follow Your Detour Dan & Lindsay
Follow Your Detour Lindsay & Dan

We found our new happy place!

Now, remember I had mentioned we were slated to have an independent suspension  and brakes installed on our fifth wheel? Well, things started happening faster than we projected.  The RV we were contemplating was 50 miles away from where we were preparing for the Heartland Owners Club North American Rally. And, the decision was made to trade in our Landmark fifth wheel for our new home on wheels! We had to call o cancel our IS and brake install. We were now on full throttle in finalizing the trade and downsizing our RV.

So, here we are! On June 14th, 2019, we passed papers on the purchase of our 2019 Winnebago View 24D. Our View is considered a Compact Class C. It’s 25′ 8″ length and 11′ height won’t restrict us like our former fifth wheel (we used as trade) in mobility or parking. This cool little motorhome is packed with punch with diesel motor and Mercedes Benz chassis. We specifically chose one that has full-body paint and is equipped with a much more fuel-efficient Cummins diesel onboard generator.

Click the image below to check out our amazing reveal!

Always On Liberty Reveal Video

Our Little Liberty features a large 36 inch depth full wall slide with comfortable dinette (for meals and workspace) and a powered Murphy bed with euro style design support system and gel mattress. It also came with two flex solar panels totaling 200 watts made by Sun Power. It is equipped with a Magnum 1000 inverter; same as what was in our fifth wheel.

Any upgrades planned?

We pulled four of the six Battle Born lithium batteries from our fifth wheel and will be installed in our new little Winnebago View. Soon, we will be installing a different solar and energy management system than the current setup it already is equipped with that will sustain us longer off the grid. And then, down the road, we may look into personalizing the interior of our tiny motorhome.

Lastly, we’ve been asked several times about if we will opt for a toad for a second vehicle. Right now, our plan is to get acquainted with Little Liberty. It’s a lot to take in transitioning from a fifth wheel to a motorized RV. We are acclimating our whole crew (kitties included!) to this whole principle of tiny living and minimalism. Because, that’s exactly what it is….tiny.

So, as I blog this, we are relaxing in a quiet Harvest Host winery in northwestern Pennsylvania…because we could fit! Downsizing our RV was the perfect answer! OUR answer!

AOL - View HH

We also have moochdocked in my brother’s driveway in the heart of Erie, Pennsylvania. (moochdocking is parking for free in someone’s driveway) Let me reiterate that. We are moochdocking in the middle of a city with our RV! And, we’re only two weeks into ownership! And though our excitement and dreams are now supersized, our motorhome and way of getting there isn’t!

AOL - Little Liberty 1

Learn more about our 2019 Winnebago View 24D!

Don’t forget to PIN this to your Pinterest Board for later!

AOL PINTEREST_ Downsize RV

Thanks for keeping up with our RV travels. And if there’s any other questions about our transition, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you and tell you all about it and downsizing our RV.

 

 

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